Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) leader Mart Helme said Thursday that the ousting of party co-laborer Marti Kuusik from his ministerial role has been nothing short of a witch hunt, flying against basic legal principles.
"People are no longer afraid to drag an entire family, spouse and minors into this dirty game, in order to destroy a politician. I consider it completely unacceptable that people's lives have begun to be ruined in Estonia, without any investigation or court ruling, and on the basis of anonymous comments," Mr Helme said on Thursday, BNS reports.
Kuusik had been due to take up the post of IT minister – and in fact had been sworn in – brushing off reports that he had been stopped by the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) on the morning after March 3 general election, after breaking the speed limit. He was also found to have trace alcohol in his bloodstream at the time.
However, rumors started to abound in the media and social media, almost immediately following the signing-in of the new administration by President Kersti Kaljulaid on April 24, that he had engaged in domestic violence.
Though these claims were strenuously denied by both Kuusik and his ex-wife, enough of the story stuck to prompt the president to leave the chamber when it was Kuusik's turn to take the traditional swearing-in oath at the Riigikogu, Monday.
Kuusik announced Tuesday afternoon that he would be stepping down, in order to protect his family, party, and the fledgling government. He is reportedly not likely to receive any compensation, which he may have been due; returning to the Riigkogu (ministers do not sit in parliament) would disqualify him from such recompense.
"I find it unacceptable that the presumption of innocence, as the most important principle of the rule of law, is being trampled on, in order to show who's boss politically,'' Mart Helme continued.
''[The president] erred severely against the principle of the presumption of innocence in the parliament on Monday," he said.
"I can see that, as interior minister, I need to start restoring Estonia's constitutional order, so that no one can be deemed guilty of a crime before a judgment of conviction has entered into force against them," he went on.
"I support Marti Kuusik's decision to leave the ministerial position and focus on defending himself and his family. I wish law enforcement authorities success in getting to the bottom of this," Helme continued, adding that his party would submit a new foreign trade and IT minister candidate to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) in the near future, probably next week.
Editor: Andrew Whyte